On the heels of 2015 being a banner year for earnings of sponsorship professionals, the results of IEG Sponsorship Report’s 21st annual salary survey paint a gloomier picture for 2016.

After industry salary increases rebounded to a pre-recession average of 6.3 percent last year, they have tumbled to 5.7 percent this year, the lowest raise percentage since 2011.

On top of that, fewer people received raises in 2016 than in the previous three years. Only 62 percent of sponsorship professionals got a pay boost this year compared to 71 percent last year.

Once again, the average raise for sponsorship positions was about three percentage points higher than the U.S. average. Exempt salaried workers in the U.S.—those for whom overtime pay is not required—earned average raises of 2.8 percent in 2016, according to the annual study released in September by human resources services firm Aon Hewitt.

Average Sponsorship Salary Increase vs. National Average
Average Sponsorship Salary Increase vs. National Average

This year also saw a decline in bonuses, both in amount and percentage of those receiving bonus pay. The average bonus dropped from $16,098 to $9,401 in 2016, while only 44 percent of sponsorship professionals earned a bonus—the lowest percentage in four years—down from 58 percent in 2015.

The picture was again rosier for those employed by larger organizations—as defined by the size of their sponsorship revenue or spending.

Average total compensation for employees crossed the six-figure mark for those working for properties, agencies and sponsors with sponsorship revenue or spending above $1 million. Looking only at properties, average pay rose sharply beginning with the $1-million-plus sector and jumping again at the $2.5-million-plus level and again at the $5-million-plus level.

Average Total Compensation by Organization Size
Average Total Compensation by Organization Size

Average Total Compensation by Sponsorship Revenue (Properties Only)
Average Total Compensation by Sponsorship Revenue (Properties Only)

Overall, $1-million-plus organizations also paid out more bonuses with much higher average amounts. More than 62% of sponsorship professionals working in the $1-million-plus sector earned a bonus. The average of those payments was $12,751 versus $3,022 for those in the below-$1-million segment.

Other significant differences between the above- and below-$1-million thresholds included:

  • Employees of larger organizations averaged more years in the industry (11 versus nine), yet were younger on average (41 years old vs. 45).
  • Larger organizations appear to promote faster—or perhaps have more turnover—with employees in that segment averaging 3.3 years in their current position versus 5.3 years for those at smaller organizations.
  • Employees in the $1-million-plus sector supervised an average of 7.3 people vs. 3.7 for their colleagues at smaller organizations
  • The average work week was 48 hours at larger organizations vs. 45 at smaller ones.

Compensation and Other Job Factor Averages by Organization Size
Compensation and Other Job Factor Averages by Organization Size

Despite a down year for compensation figures, overall job satisfaction rose from 6.9 to seven on a 10-point scale, with agency employees the most satisfied at 7.4 (up from 6.7 in 2015) and for-profit property workers the least at 6.7 (down from seven in 2015).

Job Satisfaction (10-Point Scale)
Job Satisfaction (10-Point Scale)

Another indication that satisfaction is not strictly tied to compensation is the fact that the satisfaction scores were lowest among those employed by the organizations that paid the most—those over $2.5 million in sponsorship revenue or spending.

For a breakdown of results by job title and other relevant findings from the survey, see charts below.

Survey findings derive from responses from 374 industry practitioners—43 percent working for nonprofit properties, 25 percent working at for-profit properties, 21 percent for agencies and 11 percent for sponsors.

Compensation and Other Job Factor Averages by Sector and Title
Compensation and Other Job Factor Averages by Sector and Title

Average Total Compensation by Title and Organization Type
Average Total Compensation by Title and Organization Type